AMD Radeon R9 285 Review: Tonga GPU makes its debut

By Steve
Sep 2, 2014
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  1. amd radeon r9 review tonga gpu debut amd gpu tonga r9 285

    As a mid-range GPU, the R9 285 is meant to deliver mainstream performance at a competitive price. The "Tonga" GPU is essentially a newer, cheaper to produce version of the tried and true "Tahiti" GPU that has been used by many cards. For the R9 285, Tonga has been configured similar to the way Tahiti was for the HD 7950, which is the same as the R9 280's configuration.

    This new GPU is based on the latest incarnation of the GCN (Graphics Core Next) architecture and supports DirectX 12 capabilities, Eyefinity, TrueAudio, Project FreeSync, next-gen Crossfire technology, next-gen PowerTune technology and 4K H.264 decode support. However, it does have an inferior memory controller to Tahiti, which is what makes it cheaper to produce.

    Read the complete review.

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 6, 2015
  2. Cueto_99

    Cueto_99 TS Booster Posts: 248   +12

    My XFX HD7950 died on me a month ago, fortunately I went and bought another used Sapphire HD 7950 for half the price of this R9 285... It would have been sad to spend double the money for the same performance...

    Nice review by the way, thanks!
  3. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,383   +105

    When you test games do add STO (Star Trek Online) with these video cards. With my experience with high end Video Card Adapter Slots they tend to use up more power, must be kept cool and failure rate is higher. Since most system now comes with CPU/GPU on the SoC method using that way kinda do away from using stronger GPU. I know the old way was to get the disable onboard Graphics because they were deem slower.

    So you really thing the push for 4K over 1080p in gaming really taking off where 8K is around the corner.
    Also I didn't ready what was the Texture Rate of these Cards vs this test you had performed.

    GPU RAM - 512MB, 1GB, 2GB, 4GB, 8GB an higher and sure 4K and 8K going to demand more memory to produce vivid colors and texture.

    So next time add the Texture Rate in your specs.

    Thanks for your review..
  4. kingmustard

    kingmustard TS Member Posts: 18

    8k is absolutely not "around the corner".
  5. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,430   +2,822

    It could be for those willing to spend 8K.
  6. I have 2x Tahiti LE GPUs (7870 XTs) which were late released in late 2012 but I have a feeling that, whilst they're still fast, other aspects will be holding me back soon. For example, they only have 2 GB VRAM and DX11.x support.
  7. Jad Chaar

    Jad Chaar TS Evangelist Posts: 6,477   +965

    I wonder if the 384-bit bus would have provided more gains. But I agree, I do not know if this card was necessary. Those gains could have come from better drivers.
  8. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,383   +105

    It's out for 8K commercial usage only right now...
  9. veLa

    veLa TS Evangelist Posts: 699   +164

    Should've been called the 275 or 275X. The loss of bus and RAM are just unacceptable for a card that's supposed to be better but hardly is.
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2014
    Julio Franco and Steve like this.
  10. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,188   +1,218

    Thank you for the feedback. Just letting you know we won’t be adding Star Trek Online, it’s an old game now and it’s not every GPU demanding or CPU demanding for that matter. The game doesn’t cause high-end graphics cards to consume more power or run hotter than games such as Crysis 3 for example. It also doesn’t cause modern high-end GPU’s to fail at a higher rate because they now throttle when put under the pump by applications such as FurMark.

    The last part about onboard graphics I have to admit I didn’t understand sorry.

    4K gaming is yet to arrive so 8K is far from around the corner. Right now to game at 4K you need at least three of the most powerful GPU’s available so 8K isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

    Again sorry I am not sure what you want to know about the texture fill rate and why you were talking about memory buffers.

    It would have certainly provided better performance.
  11. The R9 285 consume more power than R9 280?
  12. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,430   +2,822

    I would assume so, since the number scheme suggest the card works harder to perform better.
  13. Puiu

    Puiu TS Evangelist Posts: 1,804   +483

    you have to remember that they used a card with a 5% OC.
  14. Nobina

    Nobina TS Evangelist Posts: 807   +270

    R8 270x? A little mistake there, no problem.
  15. stan4

    stan4 TS Rookie Posts: 34

    This is so sad...

    Another crap board from AMD... I had a 7870 and loved it; When the 750ti arrived I had to try it to see if it was so power efficient, was blown away. Now I'm waiting for nvidia's new cards... hopefully the energy efficiency of Maxwell will scale linearly or better.
  16. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,430   +2,822

    I'm not sure what you are insinuating. The 7870 has twice the performance of the 750ti. Naturally the 750ti will use less power.
    red1776 likes this.
  17. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,219   +157

    Sounds linear to me hehe.
  18. Eddo22

    Eddo22 TS Enthusiast Posts: 161   +6

    I have to agree. It would have looked like a top tier product with a $200 price point and a R9 275 tag.

    I won't be surprised if AMD releases a faster variant of the R9 285 (285x) that matches the 7970ghz ed which is slightly faster than the R9 280x.
  19. Eddo22

    Eddo22 TS Enthusiast Posts: 161   +6

    That's not 100% true about 4k. Assuming SLI or Crossfire is working decent there are maybe only a few games that $200-$300 priced cards can't handle. My Oc'ed R9 280 @ 1.1ghz and 1500mhz crossfired with a Gigabyte Radeon 7970 ghz (1.1ghz 1500mhz ram) are currently running Fallout NV/3 at 3840x2160 max with no AA or Blur fx and with high res textures quite well. Very playable.
    Julio Franco likes this.
  20. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,188   +1,218

    Not sure I had Fallout series in mind when making that comment lol. Try playing a recent AAA title or any that will be released in the coming months maxed out with your setup, you will be flat out achieving playable performance at 2560x1600.
  21. Eddo22

    Eddo22 TS Enthusiast Posts: 161   +6

    Does Tomb Raider 2013 count? Because I played that with a single Gigabyte Radeon 7970ghz at 2560x1600 last year with all the bells and whistles I wanted (which is most of them). I also comfortably played the Witcher 2 at 4k res with the same card. No crossfire. I don't dought that there are a few games my crossfire setup couldn't handle, but I seriously have no interest in those games anyway.
  22. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,188   +1,218

    Tomb Raider can be played at 2560x1600 at around 32fps with a single 7970 GHz edition card, so it is no surprise that you achieve playable (if only just) performance.

    We dropped The Witcher 2 from testing over a year ago now but back when we tested the 7970 GHz Edition at 2560x1600 it smashed out 55fps with ease so the fact that you can play at 4K is not at all surprising.

    We are obviously not going to test 4K performance of single GPU's in 3 year old games simply because you have no interest in Crysis 3, BioShock Infinite, Metro Redux, Sleeping Dogs, Battlefield 4, Thief, WATCH_DOGS and as I said before any other recently released AAA game.

    Finally I made no mention of "Crossfire", for single GPU setups there is still NO NEED to test 4K resolutions since no single GPU can provide playable performance in any game released in the last year that would be used for testing GPU performance.

    We are currently testing a GeForce GTX 970 (4096MB) SLI setup at 4K and the results in those games aren't exactly stellar.
  23. Eddo22

    Eddo22 TS Enthusiast Posts: 161   +6

    I agree with everything you said, however I do not agree with the games you listed. Outside of Crysis 3, my setup which is like a mildly overclocked 7990 should be handle all those games with ease assuming crossfire was working and their isn't something wrong with those games at that res + 2x gpu's.

    Which brings me back to your original comment "Right now to game at 4K you need at least three of the most powerful GPU’s available so 8K isn’t going to happen anytime soon."

    I'm not going to speculate at 8k, but 4k is definitely playable with a dozen or so crossfire/sli setups...let alone tri-fire. Also I should clarify this is at 3870x2160...which is definatly a different ballgame than 4x 1080p.
  24. thubleau

    thubleau TS Rookie

    What a strange review.I read another review and the R9 285 beat out the GTX760 easily in most tests at 2560X1440 which is the opposite to these findings. I wonder though what all the fuss is about at these resolutions as 95% of the computer population will not be operating at these resolutions.
  25. thubleau

    thubleau TS Rookie

    Oh frame rates where on Tomb Raider R9 285 were 55 GTX760 was 47 ?

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